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Spain visitor numbers increase

Source: EFE - Tue 11th Jan 2011

There were over 53 million foreign tourists traveling to Spain last year, an increase of 1.4 % on 2009, initial figures by the Industry, Tourism and Trade Ministry revealed yesterday.

This takes Spain back into a position of growth for the first time since foreign visitor numbers fell by 2.3 % in 2008 and 8.7 % in 2009, Minister Miguel Sebastian told a press conference.

However, the figures have still yet to recover to the number of foreign visitors that were welcomed to the country in 2007 - the figure for 2010 was still 6.2 million below the 59.2 million seen in 2007.

The increase in visitor numbers last year was accompanied by a 2.5 % increase in average tourist spending, totaling 49.14 billion euros.

Sebastian has hopes that the positive trend will continue into 2011, largely due to the recovering economies of other EU countries but is being 'cautiously optimistic'.

The Minister also commented on how Spain's new anti-smoking laws are likely to affect the tourism industry, saying that "it will not affect hotels," because the same thing happened when smoking was banned on airplanes, and yet "we have seen that nothing happened."

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